'Bomb cyclone' fizzles to rain across U.S. Midwest
DENVER, March 14 (Reuters) - Runways were cleared, the lights came back on and stranded motorists and airline passengers were back on the move on Thursday as the blizzard that pounded the U.S. Rocky Mountain and Plains states shoves eastward and fizzled to rain.
Shortly after midnight, four of the six runways at Denver International Airport had been cleared, spokeswoman Emily Williams told Reuters.
And while some flights resumed, the airport was not expected to be fully operational until midday on Thursday as airlines had still had to dispatch more planes to Denver to replace those diverted or canceled earlier, she said.
Flight cancellations were down to around 600 for Thursday, from more than 1,300 in the region a day earlier.
Power outages in Colorado still affected about 88,000 customers and 77,000 in Texas early on Thursday morning, according to the tracking site poweroutage.us.
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Stranded motorists across the region had been reached and helped before midnight, a spokesman for the Colorado State Patrol spokesman said early Thursday. Around 1,100 motorists were reported as stranded on Interstate 25 near Colorado Springs a day earlier.
A state of emergency was still in effect in Colorado as cities and towns dig out from the storm during which gusts of 70 mpg pushed tractor trailers sidewise and left up to two feet of snow in some areas.
The storm was blamed for the death of a Colorado state trooper who was hit by a car sliding on ice on the highway while he attended to a car wreck.
Schools and government offices remained closed Thursday across the region.
"There's still a few headlines left on this storm," said Brian Hurley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.
The storm - previously dubbed a "bomb cyclone" for its quick, late season punch - was still expected to prompt warnings of blizzards and snow before noon in north central Kansas and Nebraska, Hurley said.
Remnants of the snow fall and rain would clear from Denver and the mountain and plains areas by midday, he said.
"By mid-morning the heart of the storm will be western Iowa, headed toward Wisconsin and Michigan, where it will bring about a half-inch of warm rain," Hurley said. Some flood watches and warnings were in place in the midwest as rain will spur accumulated snow to melt, he said.
(Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; writing and additional reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)